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Royal British Legion Industries centenary bike ride sets off from Aylesford

A 150-mile bike ride will mark the centenary of Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI).

Sir Michael Fallon will see off 100 veterans and members of the community from the RBLI village in Aylesford tomorrow morning.

The two-day challenge will see participants, including amputees, pedal through the rolling hills of Kent.

Scroll down to hear from the charity's chief executive about the challenge

RBLI chief executive Steve Sherry
RBLI chief executive Steve Sherry

They will then get the ferry to Calais before finishing at Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.

At this prominent war memorial the cyclists will stand and remember all who have lost their lives in combat.

Steve Sherry, chief executive of RBLI, did the bike ride last year.

Riders celebrate finishing the bike ride last year
Riders celebrate finishing the bike ride last year

He said: "The ride represents the energy, reslience and confidence which people can get back despite severe trauma in their lives.

"It is a great way to engage veterans who live in village and having a target like this is quite important for them.

"When you get to Menin Gate, it is poignant in historical terms but also poignant that it marks the end of a 150-mile journey - which is no mean feat."

RBLI is celebrating its centenary this year
RBLI is celebrating its centenary this year

Funds raised, which have already reached £21,000, will go towards the £14m needed for a new centenary village.

With £7m of donations in the bag, the charity has the green light to begin groundwork this autumn, but still needs another £7m to complete the project.

BMW retailer, Arden Maidstone, has given RBLI three personalised support vehicles for the ride and Kent Road Safety has been helping those braving the journey to prepare.

RBLI’s specially adapted apartments for injured veterans
RBLI’s specially adapted apartments for injured veterans

RBLI was originally set up in 1919 as a tuberculosis hospital but now offers housing, health care, social care and employment.

Mr Sherry added: "The purpose of RBLI is to give veterans some independence back.

"Many of them are hit with either mental illness or physical disability and we help them by offering employment and medical support.

"We just give them that extra lift needed to fully integrate back into the civilian world.

"This cycle ride is all part of raising our profile and showing what we do to support veterans here in Kent."

Mr Sherry expects the riders will be both nervous and excited.

"It's not meant to be a race but I'm sure we will see some competitive nature.

"I just hope everyone doesn't overdose on Begian beer on the first night!"

To support the RBLI centenary bike ride click here.

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